Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Using a Nose Bidet

I pulled out my nose bidet today for the first time this spring. My son had a stuffy nose yesterday, I believe because of allergens in the spring air, and usually when he starts showing symptoms, I know it won’t be long before I am too. So as soon as I start feeling that slight scratchy feeling in my sinuses when I swallow, I get out my nose bidet. It works wonders!

In case you’re not familiar with a nose bidet (pronounced “bih-dey”), it’s a small, usually ceramic pitcher-type container that actually looks like a miniature watering can for plants, and even kind of like Aladdin's magic lamp. It is used to flush out your sinuses with warm water, ridding them of any foreign particles that might cause allergic reactions that lead to sinus infections. How do you use a nose bidet? It’s really very simple. Put warm, distilled water and pharmaceutical-grade, non-iodized salt in it, then pour the solution into one nostril with your head tipped to one side. The water should flow into your nostril, up through your sinuses, then out the other sinus. Blow your nose, then repeat on the other side. It’s that easy!

It might sound strange to you if you’ve never heard of it, but nose bidets have been used in yoga practice since ancient times, and washing the nasal passages has been a practice in many cultures for many years as well. Even though it’s a new concept in the U.S., it works extremely well. What it does is to physically remove the allergens from your sinuses before they have a chance to react defensively. Without using a nose bidet, your sinuses start to produce a lot of mucus, in an attempt to trap the allergens, making your nose run and sometimes get stopped up. When your nose gets stopped up and you can’t even blow your nose to get it all out, bacteria begins to build up in the mucus, causing an infection. When you use a nose bidet at the first sign of a problem, you get rid of the allergens before they can cause a problem, reducing or even completely preventing allergy symptoms.

I got my father a nose bidet this past Christmas. Ever since I can remember, he’s had problems with his sinuses, always getting infections that would spread to his ears. One memory of him when I was growing up was the constant clearing of his throat, that I now know was an attempt to get allergen junk out of his sinuses. I talked to him the other day, and to my delight, he said he no longer takes any sinus or allergy medications at all! He uses the nose bidet 3 times a week, and it has completely wiped out his sinus problems!

I first heard about nose bidets a few years ago on an episode of Oprah, in which Dr. Oz introduced me to the idea. I knew I had to try it, and I’m so happy I did! I used to get one or two sinus infections every year, and now I get zero! It’s wonderful!

So if you’ve been thinking about getting a nose bidet (sometimes referred to as a “Neti Pot,” which is one of may brands of nose bidets), GET ONE. Not having to take medication, or even reducing the amount you have to take, is such a wonderful, and in some cases, life-changing experience! Abandon your skepticism and give it a try. I think you’ll be so glad you did!

Here are some tips for your first few times using a nose bidet, that might help you as you get used to using it:
  • Use only pure, distilled water. You don’t want to use tap water, putting chlorine, and who knows what else in your nose.
  • Use only pure salt. You can get pharmaceutical-grade salt at a health food store, and I’ve also heard you can use “canning” salt. It’s important to make sure it’s non-iodized, and that it’s pure, without any additives that regular table salt has.
  • If you have a hard time with water flowing through your sinuses, feeling like you’re drowning, try this: You want to make sure you’re breathing slowly while your doing this process. Breathe slowing and deeply through your mouth, not your nose. If you try to breathe through your nose while water is flowing through your sinuses, it will be very unpleasant, like when you accidently got water in your nose in the swimming pool as a child. Just take it slowly, calm down and breathe through your mouth.
  • Don’t give up if you can’t get the hang of it the first time. It’s a new concept and a new sensation for a lot of us, so it may take some time to get used to. Practice until it comes easily. 

Did you enjoy this post? If so, please subscribe to my blog using the SUBSCRIBE TO THIS BLOG section in the upper right-hand corner.  Also, add yourself to my list of Followers. Thank you!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Our Chinese Adoption

Although I briefly mentioned in the "About Me" section of my blog that we are in the adoption process, I haven't actually posted about it yet.  Our story started about a year and nine months ago, when I was about as far away from thinking about another child as I could be.  In fact, I had been after my husband for quite a while to get a vascectomy, to no avail.  I don't remember when the exact moment was that adoption came into my mind, but I do know that I was just sitting there, and what I can only describe as God's still, small voice, said to me, "Your daughter is in China. You will go there and get her."  No, it wasn't an actual voice with words like you would hear with your physical ear, but more of a subtle, yet undeniable, wave of feeling that came over me.  So that night while my husband, Chip, was playing on the couch with our then 4-year-old son, I asked him, "How would you feel about adopting a baby girl from China?"  He instantly responded with, "Sure!"  We rarely agree that quickly on things, especially something of this magnitude, so I knew we were heading toward something that was meant to be.

We talked about more that night, and to my surprise, Chip revealed to me that he'd always known we would adopt; he was just waiting for me to bring it up.  He knows me well enough that if something like that is not my idea, I won't go for it.  Go figure!

So I started researching adoption agencies that deal with Chinese adoption, and very soon found Great Wall, ordered the free informational packet with DVD, we watched it and were ready to get started.  We attended an informational workshop conducted by a family who had adopted a two year old from China a few years ago through Great Wall.  We submitted our application, and were officially in the dossier phase in October of 2008.  We drug our feet quite a bit with all the paperwork, so we could have been done a lot sooner, but ended up submitting our dossier in October of 2009.  At this point, we were requesting a healthy infant, as young as possible.  Then we began to consider an older child, around 2 years younger than our son, wanting them to be close in age growing up.  But our social worker talked us out of it with stories of how older children who have been institutionalized can have a harder time adjusting to their new lives and bonding with their new families.  So we continued on the path toward a baby, knowing the wait at that point was about 4 years.  

But something just kept eating at me, like we were not doing what was in our hearts.  Chip and I talked it over and we decided that we did want an older child, and we would take whatever risks we had to.  We called up our social worker and let her know, and against her advice, we submitted a new request for an older child, and also that we would consider some mild special needs.  So we began to look at the "Waiting Child" list from our agency, which is a list of the children with special needs that are available.  We considered things like club feet, cleft lip and palate, and other minor, "correctable" needs.  Then one day I read the description of a little girl with a condition called "microtia."  I had never heard of this condition, so I did some research. Microtia is a deformity of the ear, meaning literally, "little ear."  There are four grades of microtia, with grade I being the mildest, where the child's ear looks mostly normal, but is slightly smaller than their other ear, and grade IV being the most severe, where there is no external ear at all.  With grade I, there is an ear canal, but with the other grades, there many times is an ear canal, but it is closed off.  In this case, the child may have hearing, and sometimes the canal can be opened up with surgery.  As far as the appearance of the external ear, many surgeries and treatments are available to make the ear appear more "normal" if the child and/or parents choose to.  Usually children with microtia in only one ear have normal hearing in their unaffected ear.

After doing some quick research on microtia, it seemed like such a minor special need, and one that we could totally handle.  So I requested information about the little girl, who, on the list was called "Shaylynn."  I talked about this little girl and her condition that night with Chip, and he said he was comfortable with her special need to.  We got the information on her the next day, and from all the reports, she seemed to be a healthy 3 and a half year old.  So we quickly contacted our agency and asked her to lock Shaylynn's file, which means that no other prospective parents would be able to see it, and proceeded with the paperwork.

From the one picture we have of our daughter's affected ear, it seems that she has grade II microtia.  Although the paperwork we have on her says her hearing is poor, we are hopeful that this simply means that her hearing is not normal because of her left ear and that the hearing in her right ear is good.

We found our little girl exactly one month to the day after we started looking at the Waiting Child list.  We know God was in this.  I had actually requested information on two girls that day, both with microtia, and only two months apart in age.  But the other little girl's, whom they were calling "Hannah," was already being looked at by another family and her file was locked by the time I contacted our agency.  I had thought that this little girl might be ours, because we are naming our daughter Hannah, but God had other plans.  I was actually drawn more to the description of the little girl, "Shaylynn," (we later found out her name is "Shi Lin"):
Shaylynn was born 2/2006 and has microtia of her left ear. She is shy and afraid of strangers. She can speak some simple words and can understand orders from adults. She knows the meanings of adult’s facial expression (for instance be angry, be happy). She likes watching advertisements, listening to music and outdoor activities. She loves to be held.

It was that last line that really got me.  Even though we wanted an older child, it was so important that she know how to be affectionate and bond with us, and this seemed to be a little girl who could do that.  The fact that is shy of strangers is good, because it means she can be close to some and can distinguish between those she's close to and those she is not.  So, even though the other girl was named Hannah, God knew "Shaylynn's" real name.  He knew she was ours, and blocked anyone else from locking her file until we did. 

Although we are still in the beginning stages of adoption, and the real experience won't start until about 5 weeks from now when we travel to China and meet our daughter, I still know we have so many blessings ahead, and highly recommend adoption.  If you've never even considered adoption, consider it now.  Whether international or domestic, there are so many children out there who need families.  And there are so many different ways to adopt a child, there's bound to be a way for you if you want to do it.  Pray about it and see if there is a child out there waiting for you.

To read more details about our adoption journey, visit our adoption blog at  What are your thoughts on adoption?  Please let me know by leaving a comment.  Thanks!

Our precious daughter, Hannah Claire Shi Lin

Did you enjoy this post?  If so, please subscribe to my blog using the SUBSCRIBE TO THIS BLOG section in the upper right-hand corner.  Thank you!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Zero Calories!

I let my son pick out a snack when we were at the grocery store this morning, and he picked out a jar of pickles.  I hadn't bought a jar of pickles probably in years, and I figured since they're made from cucumbers, they're probably healthier than a lot of other snacks he could have chosen.  As I was making his lunch later in the day, I pulled a pickle out for myself and munched on it.  I was curious about how many calories it had, so I looked and the label, and I was surprised to see that it had zero!  I guess I shouldn't have been so surprised; as I said, pickles are made from cucumbers after all.  But still, I thought it would have at least some calories.  Wow, I thought.  So during those times when I'm cutting back on sugar and other refined and artificial ingredients, but am craving something salty or savory rather than sweet fruit, I could try a pickle, and will have eaten no calories!  It seemed too good to be true.  Then I though about something I read about water recently.  When you drink water, there are no calories, but since your body uses calories to metabolize the water, it actually has negative calories.  This may not be a new concept to you, and I know I've heard of it before too, but somehow it struck me differently this time, and I wanted to look into it a little more.

So I did a search for "zero calorie foods," and this is what I came up with.  Basically, you can eat as much of the following foods you want, with no guilt:



Beet Root






Hot Chili


Garden cress


Green Beans

























I'd always believed that even though fruits are healthy, since they do have sugar in them, you should still be careful about not eating too much of them.  But according to different things I've read, this is not true.  My only problem is that while I love most of the fruits mentioned, when I eat fruits a lot, I begin to want things that are not sweet, and I don't like a lot of the veggies mentioned, unless their either covered with cheese or butter.  But I suppose since I'm not diving into some fad diet, it would be ok to add a little something to my veggies, especially if it gets me to eat more of them.  I'm not a fan of fad diets; I don't believe they work, and usually are not healthy.  But I think adding more about foods with negative calories as snacks and sides can only help to make us healthier. 

If you know of any more foods aside from fruits and vegetables that have the "negative-calorie" effect, as long as they're not too processed, let me know.  I'm always up for new suggestions of healthy snacks!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Mindless Distractions

This is a subject I think a lot about lately; how much of a distraction the TV and computer can be in my life.  It really bothers me that as soon as my son is in bed, all I want to do is plop on the couch and turn on the television.  It doesn't really sound that bad on the surface; I mean there's nothing wrong with wanting to unwind at the end of the day.  But what bothers me about it is that it feels like an addiction sometimes, which is something that is always a red flag for me.  In the morning when I get up, I usually feel the need to switch on my computer right away, as if I can't get on with my day unless I check my email first thing.  Then during the day, I find myself checking my email a whole lot.  And when I'm done, I can easily spend hours surfing the web, satisfying every impulse of curiousity immediately.  Something about that just doesn't sit well with me.

I recently saw a documentary on PBS called Digital Nation: Life on the Frontier, which really got me to thinking.  The program focused on video games and the internet and how they actually dumb us down when we spend too much time with them.  Scientific studies were done, including brain scans that showed that people who read more, versus being on the internet, have stronger brains.  They said that many college students of today have a hard time concentrating on one idea for very long, making it difficult for them to write a cohesive paper.  The example was that they will write a paragraph, then get on Facebook.  Then write another paragraph and check their email.  After writing the next one, they might look up something they're curious about, not related to their paper.   What they have after this kind of writing is a page of paragraphs with disconnected ideas and a paper that doesn't flow.  I remember when I was in high school, before my family had a computer, I wrote a 10-page paper by hand, then when I was done, I used the computer at school to type it out.  I took breaks, of course, but there was no checking my email every five minutes.  I was able to stay focused and get my thoughts out in an intelligent manner.  I think it's a sad thing when a college student can't that. 

One alarming comment a student made on the show was that he just doesn't read books.  Instead, he reads the cliff notes in five minutes.  This is so disturbing to me because of how much young people are missing out on what used to be a joy in life.  There is no way you can get the essence of Shakespeare out of reading abbreviated notes for just a few minutes.  This is so disturbing to me.

They said on the program that the internet is all about distraction, and that that's not necessarily a good thing.  As I said before, it weakens our ability to think intellegently and focus.  As a mother, this concerns me because I feel it's my job to be focused on my family and to be an example to my children.  It's my desire that my children grow up appreciate reading books, that they enjoy and look forward to sitting down in a quiet room and devote hours to reading, while their minds work at imagining the scenes in the story.  My children will do what they see me doing, and if that's relying on electronic media to entertain me, and at the same time decrease my intelligence, that's the pattern they'll follow.  Television wasn't mentioned on the show, but I assume it has similar affects.

Growing up, I read books a lot.  I remember being excited every time my mother took my brother and sister and me to the library, as if something special was waiting for me there.  What adventure would I find today?  I remember devouring books like Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass in two or three days, at only 9 or 10 years old.  At the time, I didn't realize how I was building my vocabulary and developing my imagination, or how that was strengthening my mind.  It wasn't a distraction to me; something just to keep me from thinking about what I should be thinking about.  Instead, it was something I was intently focused on, and something I was learning a great deal from. 

So now I have a goal.  That goal is to cut down on how much time I spend on the computer.  How much, I'm not sure yet.  Maybe I need to first keep track of how much I do spend on it during a typical day, then decrease it from there.  I'm not sure yet.  But I do know that I will make an effort to read more during the day, so that my son will see that example and hopefully want to follow it.  I'm also going to try doing something besides watching TV every night, like delving into the myriad of books I want to read.  I talked to my husband last night and we're going to consider canceling our cable when our contract is up later this year.  I've recently taken up sewing and crocheting again, which I think are much more constructive and intelligent activities to spend my time on.

This post, which has gotten really long, is not meant to point the finger or judge anyone's lifestyle.  I know families (mine was one of them) who keep the TV on most of the day, if not all day long.  It doesn't necessarily mean that they're kids will grow up dumb.  I just think cutting back on distracting media is worth considering, especially if it bothers you like it does me.

I hope I have got you to thinking.  Please let me know your thoughts, experiences, and possible goals related to this subject.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

So I got up a little late one morning. Well, late for me, because I'm used to getting up around 5 or 5:30, so 7:00 was pretty late! Anyway, my son got up soon afterward and I fixed his "warm chocolate milk" he still wants every morning, even at six years old. Then I thought about breakfast, and just wasn't satisfied with our usual toast with fruit or cereal. So I decided to make cinnamon rolls. I looked up the recipe in my trusty Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook, but it was the time-consuming recipe using yeast and letting the dough rise and such. So I decided just to use a biscuit recipe for the dough. Now this is not just any biscuit recipe; it's only the best one I've discovered. Well, I didn't actually discover it, my sister did, and with a little alteration, it is the ONLY biscuit recipe I've ever used where the biscuits turn out big and fluffy as opposed to dry and hard as rocks. So I thought it would probably work nicely as the dough for cinnamon rolls. Besides, the only cinnamon rolls I'd made in the past were the Pillsbury ones in a can that seemed just like their biscuit dough, so I figured I could do it myself with my own homemade biscuit dough.

Here is the biscuit recipe, and following it is the cinnamon roll recipe.

Best Big Fluffy Biscuits Ever
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon white sugar
1/3 cup shortening or butter
1 cup milk

1.Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).

2.In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Cut in the shortening or butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Gradually stir in milk until dough pulls away from the side of the bowl.

3.Turn out onto a floured surface, and pat or roll dough out to 1 inch thick. Cut biscuits with a large cutter or juice glass dipped in flour. Repeat until all dough is used. Brush off the excess flour, and place biscuits onto an ungreased baking sheet. (If you place the biscuits on the pan touching, they will bake up even softer!)

4.Bake for 13 to 15 minutes in the preheated oven, or until edges begin to brown.

The alteration my sister made was to not knead the dough after mixing it, because she says it makes the biscuits tough. She also used butter instead of shortening, and put the biscuits on the pan touching.

Now for the cinnamon rolls recipe.

Angela's Easy Cinnamon Rolls
1.Make dough using above recipe.

2.Roll out dough to a 12x8 inch rectangle.

3.Spread cinnamon filling over the dough. (see recipe below)

4.Roll up the dough starting from long side.

5.Seal the seam by pinching dough.

6.Cut the roll into 12 pieces. (Tip: you can use thick thread to cut the roll more easily. Put the thread around the roll, cross it a the top, then pull together quickly. This really works great!)

7. Bake for 20-25 minutes in a 375 degree oven.

8.Allow the cinnamon rolls to cool for a few minutes, then drizzle on powdered sugar icing. (see recipe below)

Cinnamon Filling: I didn't keep track of how much I was using for the filling, but I would say about 3 or 4 tablespoons of butter, softened, then I added cinnamon and sugar to taste, probably about 1/2 cup of sugar and 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons of cinnamon.

Powdered Sugar Icing
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 tbsp milk

Mix the ingredients, adding more milk as needed, until it reaches drizzling consistency.

It might seem like a lot of steps, but it's really very easy, and so worth it! An added little pleasure to making these is that your house will smell so good while their baking!

I'll leave you with this tantalizing close-up:

Monday, March 8, 2010

Five Top Reasons I Love Homeschooling

After going over all the different options to educate our son last year, my husband and I decided that homeschooling would work best for us, at least for the time being. So he started kindergarten back in August, and while we've had our ups and downs, I have really enjoyed it overall. I fully realize that homeschooling is not an option for everyone, and in many cases, would not be the best option. But when it is, it is such a blessing to the whole family. Here are my top 5 reasons that I love this choice for educating my son:

5. Being able to stay in my pajamas all day:

I must admit, on days that I don't plan on leaving the house, I usually don't bother to change out of my pajamas. Even after a shower, a lot of the time I still get dressed in pajamas, so I'll be as comforable as possible!

4. My 6-year-old gets to be a 6-year-old all day long:

One thing I didn't like about the idea of sending my son away for kindergarten is that I felt like his child's spirit would be stifled. I just don't think a six-year-old should have to sit and do school work for most of the day. At this age, the majority of his day should involve playing, which is how young children learn so much anyway. And, childhood is so short, and once it's gone, it never comes back.

3. Not having to get up early on Monday morning!

I am SO thankful for this!!! We usually have a lot going on during the weekend, so it is so nice to just sleep in and then have a relaxed Monday morning.

2. Getting to spend so much time with my son

I just love the fact that I am there for little moments that I would have missed (or that would've never happened at all) had he been at school. Moments like when he laughs at something funny I just read in a book, or when he sings his rendition of a song from a movie (and I actually have time to get out the camera and record it). Those kinds of moments are worth everything to me; they are the true joys in life.

1. Being able to be the strongest influence on my son.

Before he is old enough to make his own decisions out in the world without me, I feel my son needs to learn how to make those decisions, and what to base them on. While he is so young and impressionable, he needs his parents to teach him about God's Word, and what it says about how we should live our lives. He needs to know that it's ok to be himself, way before he's confronted with peer pressure, so that when it does happen, he'll be mature and strong in his convictions, and won't have such a hard time going against the crowd.

I feel my greatest responsibility as a mother is to guide my children and do everything I can to raise them as kind, strong, loving, confident, faithful, capable adults, and it is such an honor to be given that responsibility. Having the time to do this for my children; I can think of nothing better than that as a reason to homeschool.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

I'm Back!

I started this blog a while back, but many things happened in my life to distract me from it, which is why I haven't posted in so long. I originally started it as an outlet for me to get out the many thoughts that go through my mind. I saw others with blogs on just one subject, and while it seems to work great for them, it just wouldn't work for me. I find myself constantly looking for the next thing that interests me. There are certain things that I come back to over and over, but still, I'm always looking for variety in my life, or "spice," as the title of my blog suggests.

I'm excited about getting back into this blog! I have more ideas than ever and more thoughts to get out. Please leave a comment and let me know what you're thinking too!